Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Shane Williams and Warren Bazemore have been playing music together since the “Honeycombs” of the University of South Carolina housed them both in 1994. Through the next decade they would go on to sell more than 70,000 independent albums as Silers Bald (along with Jason Jacobs, Marcus Myers and Laura Story), touring more than 200 days a year and landing a record deal with Essential Records in Nashville. After a three-year break from playing together on a regular basis, Shane and Warren relocated to the coast of South Carolina and started playing and writing together again.
Their first CD as duo Finnegan Bell will be released April 1 in all forms and is titled, “I Was Gone.”
The band name comes from a character in the movie adaptation of “Great Expectations,” which premiered in 1998.
Williams was raised in a literary household and loved how the classic book came to life in the movie in such a modern way. He even named his son Finnegan.
“It's hard to find a name for a band that is not cheesy or ridiculous and I was drawn to the character in the novel. It's every artist's dream to have a benefactor to set you free to do your art,” Williams said.
“I loved the redemption at the end of the movie and our band is kind of like that – come hell or high water ... ”
Bazemore is pleased with the end result.
“Recording an album is a lot like looking back at a yearbook photo,” he said. “You look back and ask yourself, 'I thought that was good? Really?' But we're five months out from recording it and when I listen back, I wouldn't change anything. Which is a new experience for us,” he said.
“Whatever profession you have, as you age and get older, you know more about what you're doing than when you were 18. That was certainly the case with this album from a songwriting standpoint,” Bazemore said.
“It was probably the most mature process from beginning to end that we've had in the best sense of that word.”
The guys grew up together, with Williams performing in singing roles as a child and Bazemore as a child actor. Through the years, songwriting and acoustic guitars set them ablaze to go the folk-rock route.
But what is significant about their songs is their message.
They co-wrote all of the songs together. According to Bazemore, “In Charleston, audiences want to hear something original. That love for original art resonated with us, which is why we both wanted to relocate there for our families and put down roots.”
Both are believers in Christ and balance their time between work, family, bars and church.
While that might not sound like a traditional band member's life, it is the norm for Bazemore and Williams.
Their lives are all about community and relationships and their music leads them to both.
“Faith is a huge part of what we do,” Williams said.
He is the Worship Arts Director and Cultural Ambassador for St. Thomas Anglican Church. Bazemore is alongside him every Sunday.
The congregation there are their biggest fans, Williams explained, encouraging them as humans first and then artists.
They still perform at church-type musical events, but professionally, the two know now there is a place in the market that pushes songwriters to be thoughtful in exploring the big picture topics.
“That resonates with us to be honest in our songwriting and lyrically it feels more like storytelling,” said Bazemore. “And in that, our statement will come out because it is an intrinsic part of who we are.
“Our goal has always been to lead with excellent art and go make it to the best to our ability and that is influenced by our faith.”
Bazemore makes his home in Murrells Inlet but travels to the Lowcountry often, where he works with his father-in-law as vice president of Sunbelt Business Brokers.
But he was told, when you marry a Charleston girl, you will inevitably move there. They are now making that inevitable march to the coast by putting their house on the market.
And like his wife's deep love for this city, Bazemore and Williams feel the same.
It is evident in their lyrics.
“We write about common experiences for people who live in the state, from family, the coast, successes and struggles.”
The duo performs many shows in the Pawleys Island area and in Charleston.
At first, bar owners booking bands were leery of “the church kids.”
They used to play Christian Rock. But their talent was undisputed and Finnegan Bell quickly gained traction among watering holes and their patrons in the Grand Strand area.
They've developed quite a following in the Lowcountry as well, playing twice a month at The Rutledge Cab Company and they're booked for Aug. 24 at The Windjammer.
The album release party for “I Was Gone” will be held at The Rutledge Cab Company on April 5 from 3 to 6 p.m., after the Cooper River Bridge Run.
The ten-song CD will be on sale there and the band will perform songs from the album.
Visit www.finneganbell.com to learn more.